Wednesday, December 31, 2008

My Reading Life- Year in Review 2008

I'm a nerd for lists.

I read 44 books in 2008. I read primarily fiction books- and of that most were mystery and thrillers. I picked up books by 21 authors I've never read before and read 8 additional titles by them. The high number of new authors was because I was trying to find a good series to get into.

Breakdown of Books Read in 2008

Memoirs- 1
General- 4

Mystery/Thrillers- 17
Kids/YA- 12
General- 10

Total- 44

1. Cirque Du Soleil: The Spark by John U. Bacon and created by Lyn Heward
2. The Last Apprentice: Revenge of the Witch by Joseph Delaney
3. The Prophecy by Kahlil Gibran
4. Black Coffee by Agatha Christie and adapted by Charles Osborne
5. A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle
6. A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle
7. The Sign of Four by Arthur Conan Doyle
8. The Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie*
9. Born On a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Artistic Savant by Daniel Tammet*
10. The Fourth Bear by Jasper Fforde
11. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova*
12. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
13. The Sudoku Puzzle Murders by Parnell Hall
14. Posted to Death by Dean James
15. Faked to Death by Dean James
16. Decorated to Death by Dean James
17. Baked to Death by Dean James
18. A Murder, a Mystery, and a Marriage by Mark Twain
19. Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You by Peter Cameron
20. I Love You, Beth Cooper by Larry Doyle
21. The Miracle at Speedy Motors by Alexander McCall Smith
22. The Grave by Christopher Pike
23. Spooksville #23: Phone Fear by Christopher Pike
24. Magic Fire by Christopher Pike
25. Jumper by Steven Gould*
26. The Death Artist by Jonathan Santlofer
27. The Society of S by Susan Hubbard
28. The Secret of Chimneys by Agatha Christie*
29. Dracula by Bram Stoker*
30. Reflex by Steven Gould
31. The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin*
32. The Appeal by John Grisham
33. The Once & Future King: The Sword in the Stone by T.H. White*
34. The Testament by John Grisham
35. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle*
36. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffeneger*
37. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
38. 50 Simple Things You Can Do to Save the Earth (1989) by the Earthworks Group
39. 50 Simple Things You Can Do to Save the Earth (2008) by John Javna, Sophia Javna, and Jesse Javna
40. Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne*
41. The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne*
42. The Red House by A.A. Milne*
43. The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
44. Wicked by Gregory Maguire*


Thursday, December 4, 2008

My First First Thursday

I officially officially don’t like wine.

After missing out on all the previous ones since moving to Portland, I finally went to First Thursday- a monthly art event in which the galleries stay open later than usual and hold receptions. I didn’t really know the best way to approach it but I did settle on staying in the Pearl District because I didn’t want to be in Old Town at night.

There was an article in a local weekly publication about a photography exhibit at Charles A. Hartman Fine Art. One piece entitled “Loneliness” caught my eye. It was of a sleeping man lying next to a bloody fish almost the same size as him. After doing a walk around of the small space, I came to the conclusion that I don’t consider photography as art. That probably sounds horrible but art to me is more of creating alternative ways to present or represent reality. So if someone just takes a picture of a previously existing subject no matter how awesome, my reaction is “so what?”

I decided to try and avoid other photography galleries and since Portland has about as many galleries than it does coffee shops, I still had a lot to choose from. My next stop was the Museum of Contemporary Craft, a place I had gone to a couple times before. I was really impressed by the things I saw in their current exhibit- Manufractured: The Conspicuous Transformation of Everyday Objects. My two favorite ones were spools of thread that if you looked through a glass ball it would form the shape of a Campbell’s soup can and then there was a dress made of face peel. There were also carved out plastic containers, dresses made out of zippers, and melted toy soldiers. These and the knick knacks found in their shop were for sale but they just made me want to create my own. To prove my obvious lack of art knowledge, I kept asking people if there were other “museums” they’d recommend when I should have been saying “galleries”.

My next move was to find where other people were heading or leaving which led me to the Lawrence Gallery. This was probably one of the much nicer, reputable ones as they had big name pieces like their Dali’s Argillet collection. There were kids running around which was kind of annoying and I was afraid (and secretly hoping) they’d break something. They were selling wine but I knew I could get it for free in other places and the night was young.

In the Beppu Wiarda Gallery, the artist whose works were featured was there to talk about them. He did cartoonish drawings which had some misspelled text on some so I wasn’t that impressed. Right next door was the Bella Perla Gallery. Their current exhibit was paintings that all had piano influences but the pieces that got my attention were from an older show depicting Portland drawn in a way that just seemed simple and different. In the Blackfish Gallery, there was a puppet of Sarah Palin and a slew of woodland creatures which just showed how art was current and topical.

My first freebie was a lollipop at PDX Contemporary Art. If that was going to be all I was getting, I would have been greatly disappointed. I thought it was cool to see Ken Shores’ Feather Fetish display again at the Pulliam Deffenbaugh Gallery. I had first seen it at the Museum of Contemporary Craft during the Craft Party and it was interesting to me that the galleries do indeed share.

I finally had my first glass of wine at Chambers@916. I still did not like the taste but it was all for the experience. With glass in hand as I looked at art- or “art”- I just seemed to fit in more and know what I was doing.

The best place I went to was this wood craft gallery whose name I can’t even remember. Not only were the store made crafts touchable but they had a meat and cheese platter- and sangria which I assume was the fruity drink I had. And it was while I was recommending the jalapeno salsa tot his middle-aged married lady that we got to talking about art- her with her graphic designing and me of my aspirations to be a writer. It’s amazing how much people will reveal of themselves to complete strangers. She thought I was interesting enough to ask for my email which just proves there is a first time for everything. I always like it when I give off the impression I know more than I actually do.

After that drink and conversation, I was hoping to find something I was more accustomed to. Luckily there was the CHAP’s Holiday Bizarre- an art and crafts workshop/store whose profits go to a children’s organization. I’m not sure which. All I know was they had apple cider and cookies. As I contemplated whether I should check out more galleries or go home- and leaning towards the latter, I saw a sign for cake tasting at Nuvrei Pastries. I had samples of their festive cakes. They were sweet and decadent, delicious and free. With everything I had drank and eaten, I was getting quite full.

I made a quick stop at the Adidas store because they had a DJ and breakdancing going on. Then, right outside, there was a guy in a unicycle playing Christmas music with his bagpipes. I thought that was a perfect end to an evening full of activities I normally didn’t do.